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BLOG: Why Eakins has assistants on bench

by Chris Wescott / Edmonton Oilers

Some NHL coaches prefer to always place one or more assistants up top in the press box area to watch the game and report to them. Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins is of a different opinion on the subject, preferring to keep his Assistant Coaches Keith Acton, Steve Smith and Kelly Buchberger nearby on the bench during games as much as possible.

"I think it's important," said Eakins. "As many eyes as you can have. What we're doing, any game that (Director of Coaching Development) Billy Moores is available to attend, we've got him on a headset upstairs. That allows Kelly to be on the bench the whole game, which I like. On games when Billy is not here, if we're on the road or something, then Kelly will go up for just the first period.

"I've never got any mind-blowing information from the guy upstairs. You get little tidbits from it. I don't think it's important to have somebody up there the whole game or designate it. On the road we'll have Kelly go up for the first period. It's a lot of different things, it's an extra set of eyes. Kelly is kind of the rover a little bit. He's watching the defence, he's watching the forwards, he's in my ear about stuff that's coming from downstairs.

"Keith is firmly watching the forwards, Steve is changing the defence and watching the defence. For me, it's an extra guy on the bench to talk to the players. There's 18 skaters and you've only got three coaches back there and I've got a lot going on in my head. I think it's advantageous to have another guy to talk to the guys individually and to remind me of things."

Eakins says he didn't even have to pick the shooters for the Oilers shootout against the New Jersey Devils on Monday. Coach Buchberger was the one to select Jordan Eberle and David Perron.

"He handed me the list. Looked like he was right."

Both players scored in the shootout, propelling the team to its 5-4 win."

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